The crowds swelled at the nightly Slichot prayers at the Western wall as Yom Kippur fast approaches.
Slichot, a prayer for forgiveness consisting of songs, laments, confessions and blowing of the shofar, is practiced on the nights of Elul and the days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, also known as Hayamim Hanorayim, Days of Awe or High holy days. The idea is to prepare for Yom Hadin – the day of Judgement on Rosh Hashana – and for Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar.
This year Yom Kippur falls on Wednesday, September 19. The fast begins on the eve of Kippur at 6:06 PM in Jerusalem and ends on Wednesday at 7:17 PM.
On the day of Kippur, practicing Jews avoid five practices – food and drink, washing, anointing, wearing leather shoes and tashmish
(marital relations). Though the practices are similar to those of days of mourning, on Kippur the intention is purification and atonement.
According to surveys from past years, over 60 percent of the Jewish community in Israel fast during the day, and the entire country – those who are secular and non-Jewish minorities included –usually observe the holy day by refraining from driving, playing music or eating food in public places.
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